Language and words in the news – 21st May, 2010

Posted by on May 21, 2010

This post contains a weekly selection of links related to language and words in the news. These can be items from the latest news, blog posts or interesting websites related to global English and language change. Please contact us if you would like to submit a link for us to include.

Global English

Goddess English of Uttar Pradesh
There’s no denying that at the heart of India’s new prosperity is a foreign language, and that the opportunistic acceptance of English has improved the lives of millions of Indians. There are huge benefits in exploiting a stronger cultural force instead of defying it.

Language change and slang

Mapping the Demographics of American English with Twitter
To say Twitter is colloquial is putting it lightly. “Brother,” for example, occurs in Twitter data during the week of May 10-17, 2010 with an average frequency of once every 7,338 words, not too distant from its frequency in its closest cousin, the Corpus of Contemporary American English (once every 9,405 words).

we need to v
“We need to talk”, “We have to talk”, “We’ve got to talk” — all ways of starting a two-person discourse about some potentially troubling topic.

Improve your English

Wales, Belgium and other units of measurement
Perhaps, as with metric and imperial measurements, such comparisons should be given convenient abbreviations: SoWs (size of Wales), SoBs (size of Belgium), OSPs (Olympic swimming pools), DDBs (buses) and so on. Thus the Kruger national park in South Africa measures 1 SoW (Daily Telegraph), as do Lesotho (London Evening Standard) and Israel (Times), whereas Lake Nzerakera in Tanzania is 2 SoBs (Observer).

On plural adjectives
When people talk about a concept that is an institution or organization, the tendency is to keep the plural form, and this is especially so when there’s a semantic contrast with the singular form:

Spelling loanwords in English and other languages
There are lots of reasons why English spelling is like it is but one of them is that when words are borrowed from other languages the English usually retain the spelling.

Language teaching

Silent Periods can also be good for teachers
I once had a class of advanced level teenagers. They were all excellent speakers and we were using an IELTS coursebook (which was actually pretty good). After the first couple of weeks, it became clear the class was starting to sort of “rot” – there was less discussion, less involvement, and the old “drawing blood from a stone” impression was starting to set in for me as a teacher. The more I tried to improve the class activities and content and make my teaching approach engaging, the further the students appear to sink into a kind of torpor.

Funny

David Mitchell’s Soap Box: Dear America
America’s spelling and grammar comes under the glare of David’s beady eye. How do you think the Queen feels about the wanton abuse of her English?

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Comments (2)
  • Soooo interesting!! Thx a lot.

    Posted by Rachel on 22nd May, 2010
  • very nice once

    Posted by rashi on 23rd May, 2010
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